We are slowly adjusting to being shareholders. We have figured out how to work our trips to the farm into our weekly grocery routine, and I'm becoming more accustomed to planning a week's worth of menus around the produce.
It's not a perfect setup. We receive an e-mail early in the week that tells us what will be in this week's share, and then when we get there, there are inevitably four or five things I haven't planned for, and I need to scramble to find a way to use them. There is still more salad than we need, more swiss chard than we care for, and not enough broccoli. The first week or two, we found we were having refrigeration issues. Our vegetables were going bad before we got to them, which was curious since they were freshly picked. We are learning what needs to be used right away, what needs to be stored in the vegetable bin in the fridge, and at what temperature and humidity we need to maintain the conditions. We learned that the lovely cotton, drawstring produce bags I purchased are not working for us (though they're working fine for Karl). What has been far more successful are those "as seen on T.V." Debbie Meyer produce bags that are said to absorb the gases that make fruits and vegetables go bad. I didn't believe in them but heard from several people how great they are, and so they have been for us. We are still wasting things; there is an entire cabbage hiding in there, half from two weeks ago and half from last week. I don't know what we'll do with it but hope we'll actually use it. All in all, we have adjusted to getting the food in the house, but what have we been eating?
Salad, and a lot of it. I can't keep up with the salad. I was not saddened today to find out that this week's rains reduced the salad share. How much salad can you eat, really? One pound of greens is a LOT for two people (Duncan won't eat salad). The salad has been great, however, with the turnips, which I continue to enjoy, with the radishes, and with the broccoli. Scallions have come in handy. Some surprises included kale, which we enjoyed in a kale and corn salad (pictured with veggie burger), that caused Jamie to declare that of all the new things we had tried, it was his favorite. Much to my surprise, I also liked beets, broiled with a sauce of butter, maple syrup, and soy sauce. The little, purple, alien kohlrabi were my favorite. By the time we shared them with Karl, there weren't a lot, but they were sort of sweet with the texture of a potato. I look forward to having them again. We have not yet been won over by swiss chard, which we have tried in a number of different ways. In polenta, it was miserable. I liked it best with raisins and pine nuts; Jamie liked it best with a sweet and sour sauce with ginger and hot pepper. "Liked" is a relative term though. Of all the things we have tried, chard is the one I would not purchase in the grocery store. Last week and this week brought us some old favorites; green beans, carrots, raspberries, garlic. It's refreshing not to have to think of what to do with them, but that comfort comes at the expense of losing that little bit of excitement in trying something new.
I'm still happy about experimenting with Community Supported Agriculture. As with any other part of life, it has its ups and downs, but the positives far outweigh the negatives. Sure, I'm trying some strange things, and learning what to do with them is a lot of work. Sure, the swiss chard keeps coming, and I just don't like it. Sure, I don't know if locally grown, organic kohlrabi really tastes better than it does from the supermarket because I have no basis for comparison. But it's just plain better for us. I've read enough now about pesticides to be concerned. I've read enough about how far the average item in the grocery store travels, at the price of expensive, nonrenewable, polluting fossil fuels. I KNOW where my vegetables come from and how they are grown. If I have a question, I can e-mail the farmer.
Here's what else I like though. I like standing next to my son in a field picking green beans. I LOVE that he got into the car and wanted to eat a raw green bean, warm from the sun. I LOVE that one of the things he wants to be when he grows up is a farmer (well, I hope he gets over that, but I like the idea that it's a sustainable industry). I LOVE that he has gotten closer to the source of his food and knows what it looks like when it's in the dirt. It makes me feel better about our future, as individuals and as a population that is sharing the planet with so many others. Today, what made my day was this quote from Jamie: "I have to admit that when I look at the produce in the grocery store now, I'm slightly repulsed by it - especially the fruit. All the wax and preservatives." There has to be a better way, and there is.